San Francisco: Policy on the Forefront

I recently stumbled upon San Francisco’s collection of progressive policies and city resolutions committing this City of over 800,000 people to a unique collection of strong environmental and social policies placing San Francisco on the forefront of urban sustainability in terms of its political backing of sustainability initiatives.

Interestingly, a number of San Francisco’s innovative policies relate to access to healthy food. A 2005 resolution declared that the City should maximize the purchasing of fair-trade  and certified organic goods. An ordinance in 2007 required that all farmers’ markets accept food stamps and other forms of food assistance payment. A 2010 executive directive instructed all City departments to meet nutritional standards for vending machines.

San Francisco has also stepped up and urged humane treatment of animals raised for food. A 2008 resolution urged residents to choose cage free hens and a 2009 resolution commended restaurants in the City that decided to remove foie gras from their menus.

Other early policies established the City’s approach to ensuring a sustainable future. In 2006, the Board of Supervisors passed the “Peak Oil Plan of Response and Preparation Resolution” to determine how San Francisco should approach potential oil shortages in the future. In 2007, the Mayor issued an executive directive for the permanent phase-out of bottled water for city departments and agencies.

Philadelphia’s recent complete streets executive order and resolutions regarding building energy use and green building incentives are a great start but the breadth of San Francisco’s commitments is extremely impressive.